The Book

A History of the Bible

A compelling, highly readable history of the Bible as a book.

Christopher de Hamel


Price: USD$29.95

This edition is temporarily out of stock



About the book

A compelling, highly readable, scrupulously factual and unbiased history of the Bible as a book, with over 200 rich, fascinating and varied illustrations of Bibles from all times and places. The Bible is the most widely circulated book ever written. The Book: A History of the Bible tells for the first time the momentous story of the Bible as a book, tracing its publication in endless forms and numerous languages from its origins to the present day.

The clear and highly readable narrative includes an account of the Old and New Testaments in their original languages of Hebrew and Greek, the Latin Vulgate translation of Saint Jerome, the magnificent manuscript Bibles of the Middle Ages, Guttenberg and the first printed Bible, and the translations of Wycliffe, Luther and the Protestant reformers. Continuing with missionary Bibles, the emergence of the modern Bible publishing industry and the mass of twentieth-century translations and versions, it concludes with the modern discovery of papyrus fragments and Dead Sea Scrolls which have cast important new light on the origins of the Bible.

Christopher de Hamel writes as a historian. Without being evangelical or polemical, he bases his text scrupulously on actual surviving Bibles and the historical circumstances in which they were made. Scholarly and authoritative, The Book provides a new, clear-sighted, thought-provoking and utterly gripping account of the origins and history of the world's most influential book

In The Press
'Christopher de Hamel's masterly introduction to the…history of the Bible, published sumptuously yet affordably by Phaidon, deserves every recommendation…urbane and scholarly…[a] fluent and engrossing narrative.' (Christopher Fletcher, British Library, Notes &Queries)
'Fascinating reading, with the added bonus of over 200 stunning illustrations…De Hamel […] illuminates for the reader the influence of the Bible on culture, language and art…not only perhaps the most comprehensive book of its type and on its theme, but the most enjoyable and reader-friendly.' (Edinburgh Review)
'An excellent guide to the development of the Bible.' (Gerald Hammond, University of Manchester, London Review of Books)
'A narrative history, rich in human interest and telling anecdote. Sumptuously illustrated and engagingly written, The Book charts a fascinating course through what its author describes as "the biggest subject in the world".' (Alixe Bovey, curator of manuscripts, British Library, Times Higher Education Supplement)
'I cannot remember when I last so much enjoyed a work of serious scholarship.' (Theology)
'Lively, fascinating, and eminently readable…Like it or not, all our lives come into contact somewhere with the contents of The Book.' (Janet Backhouse, History Today)
'The history of the Bible is the history of the book.' (Daily Telegraph)
'Essential' (Independent)

'magisterial…an awe-inspring range of reference and understanding' (The Tablet)
'Authoritative and gripping.' (Methodist Recorder)
'Lovely illustrations…written in an accessible narrative style.' (Reform)

About the author(s)

Christopher de Hamel is an outstanding authority on illustrated manuscripts and books. For many years, he was head of the Western Manuscripts department at Sotheby's in London. He is Fellow Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. His History of Illuminated Manuscripts, also published by Phaidon, has become a standard work.

Byzantium Rediscovered
Antique Maps
A History of Illuminated Manuscripts
The Illuminated Manuscript
The Lindisfarne Gospels


Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City. Read more
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